What's your rating of Digital Nomads

Hip post-colonialism or vision
Life as a digital nomad - where is the journey going?

More and more people are discovering working for themselves while traveling and want to move away from crusted work structures and towards more flexibility and work-life balance. In the meantime, a whole community has formed to exchange ideas about the challenges of digital nomadism.

What visions are behind the new lifestyle and how can it be more than just a pure self-realization trip? We asked 9 travel bloggers and freelancers about their experiences. With a series of concrete ideas in the second part of the article, we would like to initiate an open discussion - because a movement is what we make of it!

First of all: In this article, we refer to everyone who works digitally, regardless of location, as digital nomads. We do that ourselves and are extremely happy with it. We work in different countries and think it's great to be able to do our job anywhere in the world. In the course of the rapid growth of movement, however, we also find it exciting and important To take up topics self-criticallythat go beyond personal fulfillment and freedom.

How can we live digital nomadism in such a way that it not only makes us happy, but also those who have to do with us around the world?

We thought about it ourselves, but also asked online entrepreneurs, travel bloggers and others from the digital nomad environment about their visions and ideas:

Anja, Web designer & Blogger on her free time project Wilma in the worm box.

“For me, the way I travel plays a central role: getting around, dealing with local resources, accommodation. It doesn't always have to go around the world to work from there. My personal “luxury” is driving a Bulli - having everything you need with you in a small space and stopping where it's nice.
A little less of everything is worth something - flying less, less possessions (and luggage), more living. My vision: That today's work models develop away from 9 to 5 and that nomadism is accessible to more people. To get more out of life. For this, there must also be stronger networking among each other. "

Fee, blogger at Reallygigroadtrip & advocate of technology breaks

"The reach that nomads (digital or otherwise) can have is enormous, but with that reach I think comes responsibility. If you're just flitting around taking what you can and giving nothing back you're missing the point. If you allow your vulnerability to connect you with others then something magical can happen.
I try to find like-minded communities wherever I go, help out on community gardens or dig out hackerspaces, to get involved locally even if only for short periods. I'm increasingly working with more activist causes, challenging the status quo through creativity.
It's not for me to tell anyone else how to do that, or what priorities they should choose, but if my strange lifestyle choice can provoke dialogue then I'm doing something right! "

Matthias, organizes a.o. Coworking Camp (temporary coworking spaces).

“While corporations have been looking for the best framework conditions worldwide for a long time, many of us are only now realizing that, as a startup or freelancer, you also have the choice of living and working where you have the most fun and thus advantages of the location for yourself personally can use.
This opens up many opportunities, but also some challenges. One issue is the lack of a professional and social network when working from anywhere. Coworking spaces and startup events also offer the opportunity to come into contact with the local community quite easily. Inspiring others and giving them little tips can make a big difference. Digital nomadism is the other side of the globalization of the world of work. "

Digital nomadism & privileges

Positive thinking is all well and good, but you can't avoid it: Sometimes life is really no pony farm. And that is more true for some than for others - especially in a global context.

Quite a few have to work as children, others are largely excluded from social life due to a disability or illness, and still others are persecuted in their country due to their sexual orientation.

What we're getting at here is Privileges.

“Privileges” is not a particularly cool word - and the more we have of them, the less we may notice them. Being able to live and work as a digital nomad is such a privilege. There are also a few here structural abnormalities:

Whether in Chiang Mai, Berlin or Puerto Viejo, mostly self-defined digital nomads are white, many have a university degree and almost all come from so-called "western" countries. Factors such as school education, nationality and language skills apparently play a role in the implementation of this life plan.

Reality check: who can even become a digital nomad?

Without internet access you can't work “digitally” anyway - almost two thirds (!) Of humanity are left out here. But what else do you need to be able to earn a living as a digital nomad?

passport

Digital nomadism is usually a one-way street: Most of the digital nomad hotspots are primarily inhabited by people who cannot wander around the world themselves because they do not have the right passport. As a holder of a passport from regions such as Europe, North America or countries such as Japan and Australia, you have visa-free access to an average of about 150 countries, while people from countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, North Korea, Angola, Iran, Sudan and Syria can only visit between 28 and 41 countries without a visa. Visa formalities are often not just great bureaucratic efforts connected, but usually also require considerable financial resources. In Costa Rica, for example, applicants * have to pay between USD 160 and USD 240, depending on the type of visa, for an application for a US visa alone, with an average earnings of around USD 600 - and the majority of these applications are still rejected .

Cash

Traveling into the blue with a one-way ticket is never an option for most people. And yet many people share these dreams there too and are not necessarily always “happy with what they have”, even if many of us enjoy the excursions into “simple life” so much. Anyone who earns USD 10 or less a day cannot afford international health insurance or the trip to the airport, let alone the flight itself.

Or in the words of Keziyah Lewis:

Budget travel writers may have worked hard to get where they are, but just like me, they're also lucky. Ignoring this, and the financial circumstances that prevent people from seeing the world, is simply classist. "

Knowledge

Without basic (school) education, it becomes difficult even as a digital nomad, because reading and writing are, in addition to language skills, a basic requirement for working on the Internet. In addition, of course, you need some form of digital knowledge (e.g. WordPress and online marketing) or the necessary financial support to acquire it. You learn from experience, but it costs money - and / or time.

time

Become a millionaire online in a short time - unfortunately that only works in the rarest of cases (note: "When the gold rush is over, those who sell the shovels often get richest"). You can't build a successful online business just like that in one day, and in addition to an incredible amount of work, you may also need a bit of luck. But not everyone can afford to invest unpaid working time in building up a business, e.g. if you have to take care of other people. Without financial backing and support, the risk of failure is much greater - and failure is also part of online business.

Tobias, blogger at Human investors (currently no longer online) & "2.0 Emigrants

"Fairness means decent behavior as well as a just and honest attitude towards other people" (Wikipedia) - for me that means nothing other than that I do not harm anyone, either directly or indirectly, through my actions.
It also means that someone can say “no” to a particular option without fear of man-made consequences. With that I would also have defined individual freedom. As long as digital nomads treat customers or suppliers (freelancers) as equal partners in their business, I don't really see any need for action because of fairness. I think it's rather good that the more global action of the digital nomads can promote trade in the respective countries with the local people and markets. That should be the case in the tourism, gastronomy and service sectors. "

Ben, blogger at Anti-Uni.com & digital nomad (although currently primarily in Germany and actually only traveling by train)

“I have to admit that I'm a little disaffected with the digital nomad scene at the moment. Yes, personal freedom is great. But for me personally, the aspect of social responsibility, community awareness and really wanting to change something together is a bit too short.
It is important to me to really make a difference and to make a difference with a meaningful project. I would like us to get away from freedom ego trips a little, if I may put it in such a polarizing way.

As Georg von Soulbottle said so beautifully at a lecture in Berlin: "When I look back at the end of my life, then I would like to be able to say that I was not only free, but that I really contributed something meaningful." According to my current definition (which I continue to reflect diligently), everything that helps us to reach a new level of consciousness or that contributes to the preservation of our planet makes sense for me. "

Mandy, Blogger, Web designer and part-time nomad

“I am a fan of slow travel - it is less important to me to see as much of the world as possible. Rather, I would like to consciously travel with more time in my “baggage” and travel to countries for longer periods of time. Because that's the only way to really get to know a country.
At the same time, I can travel in a resource-saving manner - I don't always have to take the plane, but can also travel by train or bus. I think the digital nomad movement itself is great and I hope that many more people will find out about it. Not everyone has to become a nomad. Rather, I think that the basis of nomadism - independence and the conscious decision to go your own way - a lot more people should dare to do. "

Digital nomadism social & fair - how does it work?

Digital nomadism is a great concept of self-realization. But how can it be more than a kind of hip post-colonialism, namely thinking about other realities of life and maybe also supporting people outside of your own community? Our very personal vision of digital nomadism is one of the "beautiful life" for as many as possible.

Of course, not everyone wants to become a digital nomad, but who doesn't dream of a job that is fun, well paid and offers a certain flexibility in terms of location and time? We, who are already getting quite close to this dream, should therefore perhaps think more often of the people who are still very far from it.

A few first ideas, also inspired by the people who have had their say in this article besides us:

Slow down

Even if many of us are eager to keep exploring new places, climate change is real and has real effects on other people. Travel bloggers should also keep this in mind if they are at least indirectly motivating others to fly (more): perhaps mentioning the consequences of frequent travel here and there and possibly showing alternative travel options with a lower environmental impact. If flying cannot be avoided, the “second best solution” (according to Dietrich Brockhagen from atmosfair) can be used to offset the greenhouse gases from the flight with atmosfair. Incidentally, slow travel not only means lower CO2 emissions, but also the opportunity to get to know the region you are visiting and the local people better, including their realities of life.

Tim, writes for his main project www.earthcity.de on the subject of "location-independent work"

“The topic of frequent flying is a central point. Travel movements must not become a “throwaway product”. We use jute bags instead of plastic bags and fly 20 times a year? Difficult.
My goal: less travel. Merge more with the place. Giving back to people. Make an effort to fly less. I'm in the process of implementing this for myself. In the future, I just want to move between 2-3 fixed "home bases" and not always bounce back and forth.
I hope that more people will ask themselves why they are where they are now and whether they can just stay there a little longer instead of moving on right away. I am in favor of more multilocality than complete location independence in the sense of the long-term traveler. Sometimes a year in X, a year in Y. Not in 12 places in 12 months. "

“Get out of the comfort zone” the other way around

Precisely because it is not so easy for many people to visit other countries just like that, sometimes to give someone from a less privileged country access to Europe, for example with an invitation that such people can present to the German immigration authorities. For example as a speaker for an event. Or finance a flight for someone with the money saved by digital nomads. This requires that you find out about the legal provisions and perhaps also deal with the authorities.

Heather writes for her family travel blog globetrottingmama.com

"Many of us are traveling to poorer countries than our native lands and the ability to bring those stories home and share them with our readers who are in a position to help financially or physically is a huge one. You can raise money for a cause you believe in or lobby a government to help.
In 2011, my husband and our two kids (then 6 and 8) traveled to 29 countries on six continents on a yearlong trip. Currently my largest audience are of parents who, like me, want to help their children to become global citizens who are compassionate and active in making the world a better place. For me, that means traveling and sharing the stories from those travels in as many mediums as possible. I am proud that for many, my stories might inspire them to learn more about another part of the world or work to make a difference. "

Fair collaboration instead of charity

Digital nomads choose self-determination in their private and work life because they don't want to toil for other people under semi-ideal conditions for their entire life. Unfortunately, this is often forgotten too quickly as soon as people have a successful business themselves and have to hire other people or outsource tasks. Attacking the prevailing 9-to-5 mentality is easy. But as soon as we have the opportunity to create better working conditions for others even on a small scale, we often find it a little more difficult. Charity and donation campaigns are nice gestures by entrepreneurs and start-ups, but really fair salaries and flexible working conditions are even better, which also enable others to come closer to their dreams.

Tim writes for his main project www.earthcity.de on the subject of "location-independent work"

“If, as a digital nomad, you often outsource and take advantage of currency differences, you should definitely be aware of your responsibility and act accordingly.
In addition, as a digital nomad you are very privileged and sometimes stay in countries where the people who live there could never lead such a lifestyle, if only because of their low chances of getting a visa abroad. "

Minimalism a.k.a. own less and consume less

That just feels pretty good too. If it is sustainable, traveling with hand luggage in a minimalist way should not mean that you buy everything on site every time. The keyword here is the so-called rebound effect: an ecological and conscious use of resources such as water, electricity and raw materials is important and praiseworthy, but if the money saved is then used to buy an extra flight, for example, the positive effect will be also quickly picked up again.

Anja, Web designer & Blogger on her free time project Wilma in the worm box

“When I'm on the move, I try to be just as environmentally conscious as at home: for example when it comes to handling rubbish.In many countries the bags are pulled out very quickly in the supermarket and then only 3 parts are packed into them. I avoid that with cloth bags.
The local population can be wonderfully supported by shopping for regional or home-made food at markets. It tastes twice as good. Because the local people are often dependent on the income, especially outside the typical vacation spots. "

Support your locals

Support local structures and fair working conditions when traveling! Perhaps that also means not always haggling at any price: If the street vendor in Thailand sells his goods to a local half as expensive as we do, one should not forget that the local people (and the street vendor) are probably only a tenth or less Earn hundredths of what we have available. In tourist areas, parallel economies are often the only way for locals to live where others go on vacation.

Nacho, founder of the coworking space CoworkingC in Gran Canaria

"I came across the DN movement when we opened our coworking space in Las Palmas. We realized that the movement had a lot to offer to our local community and to our coworkers, which is why we have focused our efforts to attract more DNs to Gran Canaria.
Building strong relationships with like-minded people from different parts of the world is priceless. My own personal opinion, regarding the DN community, is that I hope they take their experience in a slow way, otherwise it will become another product they consume and the whole movement will lose sense. Each location is different, but in our Las Palmas it will take some time to really get to know people, and there are plenty of things to do to allow you to spend some time in the location. In order to respect the people you meet locally, DN’s should not book their next ticket before arriving at a new location. How much effort do you make to get to know somebody that you know is leaving in 10 days? "

Fee, blogger at Reallygigroadtrip & Advocate of Technology breaks

"My transition into #buslife over the last few years has given me the opportunity to do some reflection. It's been both an access point to true freedom (no 'proper job' / mortgage / kids / reason to be or not be anywhere) but has equally made me much more vulnerable.
I don't own land so I don't have a safe space to call 'home'. But the act of ninja-parking (pretending I don't really live in my bus) out on streets and in car parks in different cities or remote country towns inevitably connects me to people I would never have met otherwise, seeing the world through eyes I would never have accessed if I had flown past overhead. These random conversations with strangers make me feel so much more connected to the diversity of the world than I ever did when I lived in an apartment and worked in an office. "


So much for our ideas and visions, which of course are not meant as "finished" results! Many thanks go to all the others who contributed with their input that this initial impetus for a discussion could arise.
Thank you Anja, Ben, Fee, Heather, Mandy, Matthias, Nacho, Tim and Tobi!

So what do you think Do you feel the same or do you have a completely different opinion? We'd love to hear your feedback, suggestions, and thoughts. Where do you think the journey is going?